Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stretching and Making Strides

I'm kind of amazed right now. I've been thinking about the fact that it's been almost a year since I have started doing something that I never dreamed I'd make a regular part of my life...exercise! Anyone and everyone who has never made that a part of their life can say without a doubt that they will never enjoy it nor do they even desire to even start to do it. Well, I remember over a year ago desiring to just simply desire it and I remember praying for God to somehow miraculously help me become a regular worker-outer (how's that for a word?) After dealing with depression and anxiety after my 3rd daughter was born and going through marital struggles, not to mention carrying and birthing 3 kids, and just forming poor eating habits out of survival over the past 15 years or so, I figured working out may be something that could spring me back into a somewhat active lifestyle and help pull  me out of the rut I had been in for too long. I mean, who says exercise is bad for you, but how many people say they love it?

Well, lo and behold, here I am a year out from that little desire that came in and though I've had my share of lulls out of the gym for weeks at a time, I am still a member of a gym and still am getting up there a few times a week at least, if not 3 or 4 times at best...and I ran/walked 3 miles on a trail on Sunday out of my own will!! Who am I and where is Bethany? But I really can't say that any of this has come about out of my own strength OR my will truthfully! I believe it's just an answer to a prayer that I prayed fairly regularly for about a year after I saw this one naturopath doctor 2 years ago for depression and anxiety. She said that exercise needed to be almost a daily thing for me and at the time I just laughed inside as I knew that would be an impossible feat. Me? Exercise almost every day? Well, I am now 2 years out from that time and have actually gotten to the point where not only do I exercise, but I actually somewhat enjoy it. and I've learned how much I love to dance again in the process by taking Zumba and other dance classes!

Many people actually roll their eyes when I talk of my exercising because really I've never been one to struggle with my weight. I've never been obese so why in the world would someone feel such a strong need to exercise if they aren't overweight or obese? But I notice that there are people of all shapes and sizes at the gym, and they are all going toward the same be in shape, or for some, to stay in shape. So let me just tell you, just like our spiritual lives and exercising our faith, exercising our bodies is always a good thing, even if on the outside it appears one doesn't need it. Sure there are those we can point fingers at and say they need to get in shape physically and even those who are downtrodden spiritually. But when it appears that someone has it all together spiritually, does that mean they just need to put their faith on the shelf and hope they still keep up with the race that God has them on? It just doesn't work that way, does it? In order to build our faith, or to some, keep our faith strong, we must stretch it constantly. So to add to that here are a few other things that God has had me do over the past year that seemed impossible other than exercise and it has definitely kept me stretched and challenged in my faith and kept me in the race so to speak:

  • He had me start a prayer group for the first time in my life in which I've had to depend solely on Him for as I have felt so inadequate and ill-equipped to lead out most of the time.
  • In September of last year my husband and I began to co-lead a class at church, another challenge for sure.
  • Tim and I attended Discovery in Jan, Feb, and March, (see post "Hearts Alive" from January) which was a huge leap of faith and going thru it stretched my heart in ways I didn't even know it needed...and from that experience, I have been challenged to stretch myself more and more by pouring my heart out to people like never before. I could add a whole other post about that. Learning how to give my heart out to others freely has been quite a new road for me, but has been very vital to my growth.
  • And then there's our finances in which we are literally living by daily right now...trusting God to provide all our needs as they come, not knowing what will be next. Stretching out the bank account and my will power to not spend money is quite challenging at times for sure.
  • I've just started challenging myself with my diet. Cutting back on a lot of stuff starting this week. On day 3 right now. We'll see how it goes....
So all that to say, this past year has been a year of stretching, exercising, building and challenging me to do things that I never thought possible or that I thought I could ever talk myself into. And I can say that I am forever grateful for this leg of my journey because it has thrust me out of the status quo and put me into the game of life more than ever...and allowed me to see the true heart that God gave me. And that takes a heart of pure trust in Him and perseverence that I also didn't know I had before.

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil. 13:14

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